Update COVID-19 12 April 2021

12 April 2021 — One hundred and nine (109) new COVID-19 cases were identified out of 4671 samples tested today. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases twenty-three thousand, five hundred, and thirty-five (23535). To date, twenty-one thousand, two hundred, and seventy-two (21272) patients have recovered, including twenty-nine (29) in the past 24 hours. The number of active cases is one thousand, nine hundred, and forty-seven (1947) and three hundred and sixteen (316) deaths. 

The new cases are in Huye (13), Nyaruguru (12), Muhanga (12), Nyanza (12), Nyamagabe (11), Kigali City (7), Ngororero (7), Ruhango (6), Kamonyi (5), Rusizi (5), Bugesera (4), Gisagara (4), Musanze (2), Rubavu (2), Ngoma (2), Nyabihu (1), Nyagatare (1), Kirehe (1), Karongi (1), and Gicumbi  (1); heightened vigilance is required everywhere.

The COVID-19 prevention measures announced by the Government of Rwanda must continue to be rigorously observed, especially frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. In addition, face masks must be worn in public and multi-family compounds.
Withholding information related to contact tracing or COVID-19 symptoms, jeopardises public safety and will be punished in accordance with applicable laws. 

The key symptoms of coronavirus are dry cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Automated screening is available by dialing *114#. Symptoms can also be reported to a medical professional, or as follows:  
Phone: 114 (toll-free);  
Whatsapp message to:  +250788202080; 
E mail: callcenter [at] rbc.gov.rw.  

 
Let’s continue to work together to defeat this pandemic. 

For more information: 

Click on Rwanda Biomedical Centre Website: https://www.rbc.gov.rw  

Click on WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: https://arcg.is/XvuSX
Click on WHO website to view the Corona Virus Situation Dashboard with updated number of cases globally and country by country https://covid19.who.int/  

WHO

An imam, a priest and the Ebola fight in Guinea

Gouecke, Guinea – Imam El hadj Moussa Soumahoro wears a serious face. He has just ended a morning sermon that concluded with Ebola preventive messages and the importance of vaccination against the virus that recently re-emerged in Guinea for the first time since the 2014–2016 outbreak. Soumahoro has joined the fight against the disease.

“Four of my brothers and cousins died of Ebola in 2015, so I know what I’m committing myself to,” says Soumahoro, as the congregation disperses while greeting each other from a distance. A handwashing station has been set up at the entrance to the mosque as has been done in all places of worship.

Since the first confirmed cases on 14 February, the imam of Gouecke – a rural community in south-eastern Guinea where the virus re-appeared – has taken to encouraging the community to cooperate with the health authorities to curb the outbreak in which 23 cases and 12 deaths have been reported so far.

Ebola claimed more than 11 000 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the previous outbreak. However, some still doubt that the disease exists. “Trust underpins everything,” Soumahoro says. “The disease is real … It is a fight that should not be taken lightly. That is why … I felt it necessary to commit to the [Ebola] response by raising awareness.”

Since the latest outbreak was declared, he has concluded each prayer with preventive messages and the importance of contacting the authorities in case of death. Funerals and burials are important cultural practices.

Overcoming barriers

Among many Guinean communities, burials are based on the social status, beliefs, gender and age of the deceased. Religion also plays a central role. The fear of not being able to carry out burials according to tradition has led some people not to report certain deaths to the authorities. “The organization of [burial] ceremonies must strictly adhere to a number of age-old traditions that have remained unchanged in the community,” Sonah Mady Camara, a social anthropologist and a consultant with the World Health Organization (WHO), explains.

“The involvement of religious leaders in Gouecke in the response has been beneficial and has helped in overcoming a lot of reluctance within the community,” says Ibrahima Kone, the subprefect of Gouecke.

Imam Soumahoro was among the first people to receive the Ebola vaccine, helping to convince many in his community to accept to be vaccinated. So far around 4000 people have received the vaccine, including 2400 frontline workers.

While vaccination has been successful, screening for cases has been more challenging. Since the re-emergence of Ebola, personnel at the Gouecke health centre only carry out two or three consultations a day, compared with about 30 previously. “Ebola is scary, and fear makes people hide as soon as they observe the first signs of the disease,” says Jean-Baptiste Goumou, the Gouecke parish priest who is also encouraging community collaboration.

“There were rumours that this disease was a big lie invented by the health authorities with the complicity of the government to make money at the expense of the Gouecke community,” says Kangbe Camara, a resident of Gouecke. “It was also said that the vaccine had been brought to kill people. Thanks to the imam I got the courage to go and get vaccinated.”

Monitoring Ebola

Imam Soumahoro and the Gouecke parish priest are also members of the WHO Ebola monitoring committee tasked with addressing community reluctance in Gouecke. The committee has persuaded the population to participate in disease surveillance, screening and safe and dignified burials.

“The imam and the priest play a fundamental role in strengthening social bonds within the community. They are the confidants of everyone. This confers them a special status among the faithful and the community hence the importance of including them in the committee,” says social anthropologist Camara, who helped to set up the committee.

“When our teams work on the ground, they always start by visiting them [religious leaders]. As members of the monitoring committee tasked with overcoming reluctance, they are expected to significantly contribute in terms of observance of health measures and greater involvement of the communities in [Ebola] surveillance.”

WHO

WHO Builds trust for COVID-19 Vaccination and Addresses Hesitancy in West Nile Sub Region

Vaccines are largely known to be safe and effective in protecting people against deadly and disabling infectious diseases. Currently, there are vaccines that are effective against over 20 diseases. Overall, it is estimated that vaccines save the lives of up to 3 million people annually.  

However, over time, vaccination programs have faced several challenges prominent of which is the increasing vaccine hesitancy among the public. Hesitancy has particularly affected the newly introduced COVID-19 vaccines including the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

In the West Nile sub-region of Uganda, the response especially among frontline health workers was not any different. Initially, the acceptance or willingness to take the COVID-19 vaccine was notably low with only a few accepting to be vaccinated. 

For instance, in Arua City, less than 10% of the frontline health workers were vaccinated in the first two days and only 26% of the registered health workers agreed to be vaccinated according to the district records. 

 “The first few days of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign were marked by a rather poor turn-up for vaccination due to a number of reasons ranging from administrative challenges. Key among these was hesitancy from the front-line health workers who were our first target,” says Dr Apangu Pontius, Acting District Health Officer of Arua City. “We only managed to tackle this issue and improve turn up by embarking on effective vaccine safety communication targeting the priority group,” he adds.  

Yet, health experts continued to be concerned about the difficulty of ending the COVID-19 pandemic without vaccinating enough people to attain herd immunity which is crucial because it will lead to de-congestion of Intensive Care Units, continued delivery of essential health services and restoration of normal social and economic activities.

While several people understand the benefits of vaccination and have responded positively, a significant proportion continues to have concerns about the safety of vaccines. 

WHO risk communication teams in the region have responded to these concerns by designing and implementing orientation sessions for the target groups. They are providing accurate and scientifically proven information on the vaccine and tackling rumours and misinformation. This has contributed to increased vaccine uptake among frontline health workers, teachers, and security personnel.

 “If it wasn’t for the COVID-19 vaccination continuous medical education organized at the facility by the WHO and the district health team, I wouldn’t have accepted this Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. It has received a lot of negative publicity through social media and in the news about leading to blood clots in a few people,” says Sister Hellen Lumago, the In-charge, Lodonga Health Center IV. 

Despite, the achievements to date, a multitude of gaps and challenges still exist in the population especially regarding vaccine safety.  This is inevitable and expected especially when introducing a new vaccine.  

An effective risk communication strategy can go a long way in allaying concerns, addressing rumours and misinformation and in the process contributing to wider coverage and containment of the outbreak. Health workers in West Nile sub-region are doing exactly that. 

WHO

TRACKING PROGRESS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE: ERITREA

Eritrea  continues to take actions to translate political commitment for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) with required actions to implement identified priorities. As part of the agreed milestones the Honourable Minister of Health, Mrs. Amina Nurhussein, convened a high level meeting between top officials in the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) country team. This meeting is second of a series of meetings as part of quarterly coordination meetings. The first of was held on 15 December 2020. The recent meeting, which took place on 31 March 2021, was convened to track the progress on the actions that were agreed upon in the first  meeting and to coordinate on the necessary actions for the issues that had arisen since then. 
The Honorable Minister of Health welcomed everyone and elaborated that the aim of the meeting was to review the implementation progress. Dr Martins Ovberedjo, WHO Representative, thanked the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Government on behalf of WHO for their commitment to follow up on agreed milestones. 
The meeting discussed key implementing challenges and their possible solutions covering various programmes including Reproductive, Maternal Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH), EPI (Immunisation), Health Systems Strengthening (HSS), Health security (health emergencies) and international health regulations (IHR) among others. The highlights of the areas covered are outlined below: 

  1. Leadership and governance: Finalization of the National Health Policy and the Essential Health Care Package (EHCP), strengthening the supportive supervision to the lower level health facilities and development of the new national health sector strategic development plan.
  2. Health services delivery: Updating and implementing the priority areas of the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS).
  3. Health workforce: Updating of the Human Resources for Health strategic plan.
  4. Health information: Continued implementation of the integrated African health observatory, planning and implementation of the for the Harmonized Health Facility Assessment (HHFA) and implementation of data quality assessment.
  5. Medical products, vaccines and technologies: Tracking the implementation of the EPI programme activities which include the  EPI programme review and development of the next comprehensive Multi-Year Plan (cMYP) for immunisation.
  6. Health financing: Reviving the efforts to build capacity and implement the National Health Accounts (NHA)

The Honourable Minister of Health ensured that there were dedicated senior MOH personnel to lead in the implementation of the action points agreed upon in this meeting as part of the collaborative efforts with WHO.   
At the end of the meeting the Honourable Minister of Health thanked everyone for participating in the meeting and remarked that it was a fruitful meeting. In turn Dr Martins Ovberedjo congratulated Her Excellency, the Minister of Health and Government for efficient management and implementation, as well as their continued commitment to implement UHC priorities. The WHO team outlined that all recommendations made will be acted upon collaboratively. The meeting reaffirmed commitment to implement the agreed upon milestones. 

WHO

WHO Ethiopia supports frontline field epidemiology training of health professionals from the police and defense forces

The Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) is collaborating with the Ethiopian Ministry of National Defense and the Federal Police Commission of Ethiopia to establish and strengthen surveillance systems in the health facilities and structures serving armed and police forces, their families and communities. Critical in this process is a well-trained workforce with skills to collect, analyze, and interpret surveillance data and initiate timely public health response to health emergencies, reducing associated morbidities and deaths. With funding from US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and support from EPHI, World Health Organization (WHO) and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 110 officers were given the training in 2019. In addition, 46 professionals (19 from defense forces and 27 from the police) were trained and graduated from the program in February 2021. 

The three months of in-service training incorporated classroom workshops and job-relevant field projects to apply and reinforce what trainees learned in class while providing services. Participants were equipped with skills to collect, analyze, interpret and report public health surveillance data, including quality audits and root cause analysis. They were also introduced to outbreak investigation and response processes, enabling them to conduct the descriptive phases of any disease outbreak and describe the time, place, and person characteristics. It is envisaged that once they return to their workstations, they will apply these skills to strengthen surveillance within the two institutions.

At the end of the training, a Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) were signed between EPHI and the Ministry of Defense, and between EPHI and Federal Police Commission.   The MoU will facilitate sharing of surveillance data and reports, resources for emergency investigations and responses, and also included an agreement on joint capacity building, preparedness, and coordinated response to public health emergencies.
The graduation ceremony was conducted on February 17, 2021 in Adama, Ethiopia in the presence of representatives from the Government of Ethiopia, US CDC, the US Embassy and WHO Ethiopia. The United States Government provided financial support to the training the program through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the US Department of Defense.

WHO

Ethiopia vaccinates 5.8 million under-five children against polio

A four-day polio campaign has been conducted house to house to vaccinate 5.8 million  under-five children in selected high-risk areas with two drops of potent bivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (bOPV) and achieving 100% coverage. More than 111,000 of the vaccinated children were in refugee camps (Afar 4,949; Benishangul Gumz 12,576, Gambela 65,077& Somali 28,581).

 
The campaign took place in 36 zones and 364 woredas of Benishangul Gumuz, Gambella, Afar, Somali, Harari, SNNPR, Oromia and Amhara regions and Dire Dawa City Administration. Zones sharing borders with neighboring countries and at risk of importation of polio virus, refugee camps and camps for internally displaced people, zones with low routine immunization performance and low population immunity, zones with high population movement and zone with low surveillance indicators were selected for the campaign as high-risk areas.

 
 The campaign also aimed to strengthen routine immunization systems and acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance in all implementation areas.
WHO provided technical, logistical and financial support both in the preparation and implementation of the campaign. Assessment of preparations was conducted using the WHO readiness assessment tool, and monitoring and evaluation tools were developed and made available by WHO teams. WHO also supported the training of trainers (ToT), the virtual monitoring and evaluation training and printing of campaign materials. Additionally, WHO deployed about 40 WHO central and field staff to support the campaign through supportive supervision.

WHO

Update COVID-19 11 April 2021

11 April 2021 — Eighty-three (83) new COVID-19 cases were identified out of 6047 samples tested today. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases twenty-three thousand, four hundred, and twenty-six (23426). To date, twenty-one thousand, two hundred, and forty-three (21243) patients have recovered, including one hundred, and seventy-one (171) in the past 24 hours. The number of active cases is one thousand, eight hundred, and sixty-eight (1868) and three hundred and fifteen (315) deaths. 

The new cases are in Nyamagabe (18), Nyaruguru (11), Gicumbi (10), Muhanga (8), Huye (7), Burera (7), Nyanza (6), Rubavu (5), Kigali City (3), Ruhango (3), Kamonyi (2), Karongi (1), Gisagara (1), and Gakenke (1); heightened vigilance is required everywhere.

The COVID-19 prevention measures announced by the Government of Rwanda must continue to be rigorously observed, especially frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. In addition, face masks must be worn in public and multi-family compounds.
Withholding information related to contact tracing or COVID-19 symptoms, jeopardises public safety and will be punished in accordance with applicable laws. 

The key symptoms of coronavirus are dry cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Automated screening is available by dialing *114#. Symptoms can also be reported to a medical professional, or as follows:  
Phone: 114 (toll-free);  
Whatsapp message to:  +250788202080; 
E mail: callcenter [at] rbc.gov.rw.    

Let’s continue to work together to defeat this pandemic. 

For more information: 

Click on Rwanda Biomedical Centre Website: https://www.rbc.gov.rw  

Click on WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: https://arcg.is/XvuSX
Click on WHO website to view the Corona Virus Situation Dashboard with updated number of cases globally and country by country https://covid19.who.int/  

 

WHO

Sierra Leone receives initial Ebola vaccine supply to bolster prevention

Freetown, 10 April 2021 – Sierra Leone today received the first batch of Ebola vaccines donated through the partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the vaccine manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. A total of 30 000 regimen of the vaccines have been approved for Sierra Leone to protect people at high risk of the disease. Each regimen consists of two doses and would be given to the beneficiaries approximately eight weeks apart. The first consignment consists of 640 doses. Another consignment of 3 840 is expected to arrive in Freetown on 11 April. Subsequent consignments will be delivered during the period of the preventive vaccination.

The last Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone was in 2016. Since then, no positive case of the disease has been confirmed in the country. 

With the current outbreak of Ebola in neighbouring Guinea declared on 14 February 2021, Sierra Leone was placed under a priority-one country for Ebola preparedness based on the imminent risk of potential cross border transmission. Following the announcement of the outbreak and the imminent risk for Sierra Leone, the country activated its Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Systems to level 2 to enhance public health surveillance, active case finding and robust community engagement to prevent the spill over of the disease from the sister country, and ensure early case identification and effective response to manage any spill over and prevent spread into the community. 

On 7 April, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation launched a comprehensive six months Ebola Outbreak Preparedness and Contingency Plan to guide the country’s heightened preparedness activities. The vaccine delivery and the planned vaccination of a selected target groups is one of the strategic priority interventions that are being undertaken in Sierra Leone to protect those at high risk of contracting the disease should there be a spill over into the country.

“Despite the threat of Ebola outbreak and the multiple public health emergencies we are currently dealing with, there is greater hope and confidence in the improved capacities that Sierra Leone has built over the years to prevent these outbreaks and to promptly bring cases under control if they ever occur,” said Dr Steven Velabo Shongwe, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone. “Our hope is also based on the great scientific developments and progress made over the past five years for the prevention and management of Ebola cases in terms of advances in Ebola vaccines, and therapeutics to treat confirmed Ebola patients. WHO will continue to collaborate with partners to harness and to provide technical support to Sierra Leone to save lives and protect the population from unnecessary deaths and negative socio-economic impact as was the case during the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak that paralysed the country”.  

Between 10 and 11 April 2021, a total of 4480 doses of the vaccines would have been delivered to health authorities in Sierra Leone. By the end of August 2021, a total of 30 000 regimen (60 000 doses) would have been delivered in Sierra Leone to vaccinate those at highest risk of contracting Ebola disease in the event of a spill over from the current outbreak in Guinea, thanks to the partnership between WHO, Johnson and Johnson and the Government of Sierra Leone.   

The Ebola vaccine were mobilized by WHO from its headquarters in Geneva in partnership with the producer Johnson & Johnson. 

Sierra Leone is working closely with neighbouring countries and regional and international organizations to strengthen collaboration in the fight against the disease. In March, the Ministers of Health from the neighbouring countries agreed on a common approach to improve coordination and cross-border collaboration to stamp out the outbreak in Guinea and prevent cross-border transmission.

The country’s effort to scale up its national emergency readiness capabilities is strongly supported by WHO, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alongside other partners to build the required capacities for prevention and response, while continuing to monitor the situation in Guinea.

Media contact

 WHO country/regional office
Saffea Gborie, +232-76 777878, gboriesa [at] who.int  
Sakuya Oka, +242 06 508 1009, okas [at] who.int 

WHO

Update COVID-19 10 April 2021

10 April 2021 — Eighty-three (83) new COVID-19 cases were identified out of 6928 samples tested today. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases twenty-three thousand, three hundred, and forty-three (23343). To date, twenty-one thousand, and seventy-two (21072) patients have recovered, including eighty-one (81) in the past 24 hours. The number of active cases is one thousand, nine hundred, and fifty-seven (1957) and three hundred and fourteen (314) deaths. 

The new cases are in Huye (13), Nyamagabe (12), Nyaruguru (11), Nyanza (10), Kigali City (8), Karongi (5), Burera (5), Gisagara (4), Gakenke (4), Ruhango (2), Rutsiro (2), Muhanga (2), Ngororero (2), Kamonyi (1), Rubavu (1), and Rusizi (1); heightened vigilance is required everywhere.

The COVID-19 prevention measures announced by the Government of Rwanda must continue to be rigorously observed, especially frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. In addition, face masks must be worn in public and multi-family compounds.
Withholding information related to contact tracing or COVID-19 symptoms, jeopardises public safety and will be punished in accordance with applicable laws. 

The key symptoms of coronavirus are dry cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Automated screening is available by dialing *114#. Symptoms can also be reported to a medical professional, or as follows:  
Phone: 114 (toll-free);  
Whatsapp message to:  +250788202080; 
E mail: callcenter [at] rbc.gov.rw.  

 
Let’s continue to work together to defeat this pandemic. 

For more information: 

Click on Rwanda Biomedical Centre Website: https://www.rbc.gov.rw  

Click on WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: https://arcg.is/XvuSX
Click on WHO website to view the Corona Virus Situation Dashboard with updated number of cases globally and country by country https://covid19.who.int/  

WHO

Update COVID-19 09 April 2021

09 April 2021 — One hundred and eight (108) new COVID-19 cases were identified out of 6557 samples tested today. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases twenty-three thousand, two hundred, and sixty (23260). To date, twenty thousand, nine hundred, and ninety-one (20991) patients have recovered, including one hundred and twenty-one (121) in the past 24 hours. The number of active cases is one thousand, nine hundred, and fifty-five (1955) and three hundred and fourteen (314) deaths. 

The new cases are in Nyaruguru (27), Kigali City (20), Nyamagabe (20), Gisagara (8), Gakenke (5), Nyagatare (4),  Gicumbi (4), Ngororero (3), Nyanza (2), Rubavu (2), Rusizi (2), Huye (2), Rwamagana (2), Muhanga (2), Karongi (2), Kirehe (1), Ngoma (1), and Rulido (1); heightened vigilance is required everywhere.

The COVID-19 prevention measures announced by the Government of Rwanda must continue to be rigorously observed, especially frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. In addition, face masks must be worn in public and multi-family compounds.
Withholding information related to contact tracing or COVID-19 symptoms, jeopardises public safety and will be punished in accordance with applicable laws. 

The key symptoms of coronavirus are dry cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Automated screening is available by dialing *114#. Symptoms can also be reported to a medical professional, or as follows:  
Phone: 114 (toll-free);  
Whatsapp message to:  +250788202080; 
E mail: callcenter [at] rbc.gov.rw.    

Let’s continue to work together to defeat this pandemic. 

For more information: 

Click on Rwanda Biomedical Centre Website: https://www.rbc.gov.rw  

Click on WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: https://arcg.is/XvuSX
Click on WHO website to view the Corona Virus Situation Dashboard with updated number of cases globally and country by country https://covid19.who.int/  

WHO